Our Colorado Springs community recently dealt with an unimaginable loss - the shooting of four first responders and the death of one of those officers.
With this news, we are once again confronted by the heartbreak and trauma of loss. The people most impacted by this tragedy share a common thread - their lives were lost suddenly, leaving their family and friends to cope with the unexpected loss of someone whom they loved dearly.
It is important for us to recognize that none of us who witness a community tragedy, either as a first-person witness, friend, work colleague or family member, or a community member after the news, aren't touched by it. It's important to remember that stress and grief that comes from these losses are normal reactions to sudden tragedy.
Experiencing the loss of a loved one is always challenging, but a sudden loss can be shocking and even unimaginable. In the back of our minds, we understand that no one lives forever. When someone we love has a terminal illness or has reached the end-stages of life, we have time to make preparations and say our goodbyes. But an untimely death can leave us feeling out of control and overwhelmed with the pain of grief.
Those who experience unexpected loss may feel angered by the sudden death, cheated of a last goodbye or sad that they didn't perform some final act of kindness before their loved one died. Missing out on saying goodbye can leave us feeling distressed, adrift and angry; which only adds to our grief, pain and sadness during an already difficult time.
Although it may be hard to imagine during the months and even years after the sudden death of a loved one, it's important to remember that recovery is possible.
While everyone grieves differently, we ultimately work through the pain to begin healing.
As we go through a grief journey, it's critical to focus on our health and emotions.
After a loss we may find ourselves eating or sleeping less - but both are key to recovery. We should be honest with ourselves and deal with our emotions - repressing feelings only delays the grieving process. Crying doesn't mean we are weak or that we're being selfish - it means that we are human.
Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care's Center for Grief & Loss is available to anyone in the community experiencing the loss of a loved one, regardless if we provided end of life care to the person who died. Call 719-884-6530 for next steps, at no cost.
Especially in the aftermath of community tragedies, we want to extend our support and services to everyone touched by this recent shooting.
These services are free due to the generosity of our donors. Our counselors stand ready to assist anyone grieving the unexpected loss of a loved one.
Ultimately, it's important to keep your loved one close to your heart and honor him or her by living a fulfilling and rewarding life.
During the difficult times after an unexpected loss, we can find comfort by trusting that the person we loved would want us to live our lives to the fullest.
Gloria A. Brooks is president of Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care and the president and CEO of Pikes Peak Hospice Foundation.